Superstar Award 2019

Friday 6th September we hosted our much anticipated ‘Superstar Awards Day’.  The whole day was dedicated to celebrating all that has been achieved by individuals and our teams across Hungry Caterpillars in 2019.  Working in early years is a profession that does not always get the credit it deserves.  It is a hard job that requires passion, dedication and a relentless push to ensure all children get the best possible start in life.  We really want the day to recognise and celebrate the commitment and passion of our teams.

In addition we looked ahead to our plans across the company and at each nursery for 2020.  We had a great day, the room was filled with positive energy as we enjoyed various sessions in the lead up to the Awards in the afternoon.
The day started with and opening from our Directors Olivia and Tim where they summarised all that had been achieved as a company and all that they had planned for 2020.

Eco Project 2020

Each year, at our awards we launch a new project for the following year.  It is normally something we can focus on as group at each of our nurseries and something that will make a difference to the staff, children and families.  Last year we launched the Curiosity Approach which we adopted as the influence for our pedagogy.  Over the course of the year we have seen our teams really embrace the approach and as we move in 2020 we have two, possibly three nurseries about to embark on Curiosity Approach Accreditation which is really exciting.
In 2020 our project is to reduce our carbon footprint, become more environmentally sustainable and help to education the children at our nurseries.   We are calling it our ECO Project and we are really excited  about the possibilities and the impact we can have.  It’s a subject that is close to everyone hearts and a high priority in today’s world with the threat and impact of global warming on the news daily.
Also the importance of educating children in becoming a more sustainable nursery. As a group we will be looking into what we can do to improve our sustainability and improve the world for the future generations we are currently looking after now. Our Operations Manager Karen, talked through some of the things we can at each of our sites to reduce unnecessary waste and what products we can change that are a bit kinder on the planet. Throughout the day, the company used the app Slido, which gave the team a chance to give their ideas from their phone, coming up with some fun and easy things for them to do at their nurseries.

In the New Year, we will be stepping it up and looking at our suppliers, possibly finding new suppliers that could fit our new initiative. Can we switch our nappies to biodegradable? Have we switched our lights over to LED? These will be the small things we can start with in our road to becoming an eco-school.

Looking back at 2019 and our plans for 2020

Each nursery prepared and presented to the whole company what they have achieved as a team in 2019.  They focused on what their goals and aspirations for the year ahead. There was some great ideas for the teams as well as the nursery environments, with most nurseries really embracing the curiosity approach.

Future and Developing Leaders Program

The whole team also heard from Rosie, the Director of ESB Training, who has been working with us all year and delivered the leadership and management element of our FDLP Program in 2019.
We also enjoyed a presentation for the FDLP Graduates, in which they shared all that they had learnt and gained from them course.  It was fun and interactive and hopefully we will see many more staff sign up for the program in 2020.

A Special Treat

As a special treat at the end of the day Father Christmas and his little elves came by to hand out presents to everyone. What a great day for the whole team to come together and celebrating all of our accomplishments.

AND HERE IS OUR 2019 WINNERS!

The Nursery with the best overall attendance

Acton

Our Long Service Award
Collectively these staff have over 178 years of service working with Hungry Caterpillars.  A couple of even cared for our daughter (now 18) when she attended nursery.  Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the children and families at Hungry Caterpillars.

5 Years; Chad Tilston, Nailah Ali, Lucy White, Kevin Kailani, Uma Shelat, Biba Alasady, Arulrani Nanthaseelan, Simon Picot, Anthony Cassidy, Holly Weston

6 Years; Jackie Picot, Nasrin Ali, Brianna Chiedozie, Caren Carpenter

7 Years; Sion Williamson, Rasha Zelzale, Luis Colaco, Rajvinder Chaggar, Samina Malik, Clare Porter

8 Years; Stevie Langton, Lisa Rae. Ioana Moldovan

Special Recognition; Chelsey Gilder 10 years, Hannah Sutton 14 years, Claudine Fearon 14 Years

Parent’s Choice Award
This award is always really special as it recognises the relationships you build with parents, the impact your love and care of their child and the massive difference you make to them as a family.

Acton – Anthony
He has been nothing but supportive since the day I came to view the nursery to now. My child came from a complete different nursery and Anthony really helped with the transition. He is always responsive and very easy to approach to discuss any worries I have about my child and I really can see how he goes above and beyond to make sure parents are happy. Anthony is defiantly a credit to Hungry Caterpillar!

Acton Park – Holly
Holly has made a big effort with Maryam and have been very patient and helpful. Maryam adores Holly.
Maryam has not been at the nursery very long but as a mother it’s really good to know Maryam is well taken care of and is happy there.
Maryam actually likes to go to nursery now and I think Holly is a big part of it. Thank you

Academy Gardens – Gosia
She has made the transition from baby room to toddler room so effortless for my daughter.  My daughter always says how happy and “good to me” Gosia is, she keeps me well informed on what my child does throughout the day and is never too busy to speak to me about my child’s progress.
I truly appreciate how she makes my child feel loved and cared for when mummy is at work

Chalfont – Tyla
Anaya has had a very difficult time settling into nursery. Tyler has worked really hard in getting to understand Anaya better whilst also supporting Anaya’s health needs. Tyler has been very good at getting in touch with me when she knows I have been worried about Anaya’s health just to let me know that progress has been made at nursery and Anaya feels better.  I have also seen a lot of developmental progress in Anaya and I think this is down to Tyler and the nursery.  I also really impressed with what Anaya has learned – at 18 months she sings nursery rhymes, says a lot of words and can even put 3 worded sentences together.  I am a working mum and have limited time to help with Anaya’s development so I am thankful to Tyler and the nursery for all they do. Tyler has also been instrumental in Anaya learning how to eat on her own which I have been really impressed with

Hanwell – Meena
I could see Meena was very new to the role but she grew in confidence so quickly.  She always gives my little one and others such lovely greetings every morning!
They are always so pleased to see her, she should be proud of herself as my daughter always says Meena with a beaming face

Hathaway – Tara
Her commitment to ensuring our daughter has settled in well has been exceptional. We are happy and comfortable leaving her with Tara everyday and Isla is happy and excited to spend the day with Tara.  We feel very very lucky to have found such a fantastic nursery, with such a kind and gentle key worker who looks after Isla so well..

High Wycombe – Abi
Our little boy always looks forward to going to nursery and all of the staff are fantastic but he has a particular soft spot for Abi.
She has a great attitude, is very knowledgeable and is always smiling and friendly. She has developed a fantastic relationship with Grayson, he always says he’s had a fun day with Abi and we know he can be a bit of a cheeky monkey sometimes!”

Northolt – Biba
Our daughter loves her a lot, she is very comfortable with her and feels safe in her arms.  She even calls Biba’s name when she is at home.  Thank you for taking such good care of our daughter.
I would also love to nominate everyone else, because all staff at Northolt are amazing

Perivale – Federica
She is always so positive, smiley and upbeat and has a great sense of humour.
Also every day when I ask my daughter about her day at nursery she always mentions Federica which fills me with trust and makes me happy that she has bonded so well at nursery.

Stanburn – Jagruti
I am nominating Miss Jagruti because I really feel that her efforts for the children’s development especially with my child is very noticeable.  The most important factor is her daily interaction with my daughter and me, she notices every small detail, likes – dislikes and she plans lots of activities.
I have seen a big difference with my daughter’s speech & Language and her social behaviour has improved. I really feel Miss Jagruti is a deserving staff member to win this award.

West Twyford – Ramona
She deals so well with my child and she really learns from her and loves her!
So much that my daughter repeats what Ramona taught her at home, saying ‘Ramona said..’
It is all the little touches that make help my daughter learn that I really appreciate

Newcomer of the Year
This award recognises an individual who had joined Hungry Caterpillars or moved to a new role / setting in the past 12 months.  During that time they have created strong relationships with children, staff and parents and have shown their dedication and passion to making a difference to children’s lives.

Winner is: Kennedy (Northolt)
Judges choose Kennedy as in the short amount of time she’s worked at Hungry Caterpillars she has demonstrated her strong character in a busy environment She uses her initiative when supporting the team and a confident voice when speaking to children, parents and members of the team.  She has been acknowledged by nursery visitors for her attitude and passion to the children.  She has already made strong bonds with all the children and is professional with parents.

Highly Recommended: Shruti (Hanwell)

Newcomer of the Year
This award recognises the outstanding care and education provided by an individual practitioner.  They demonstrate their passion and provide love and genuine care for the children they car for.  In addition they have great relationships with the team and parents.

Winner is: Angela (Academy Gardens) 
The judges choose Angela as it was Clare from her nomination that she is a caring and calm practitioner.  Nothing is too much trouble and Angela will always go the extra mile.  Angela is the children’s and parents favourite and the most requested practitioner as key person in the Butterfly Room.  She is 100% committed to her role as a Nursery Practitioner and the children in the nursery and is a great team player.  Angela genuinely cares about all the children in the nursery and strives to give them the best possible care and education she can.


Highly Recommended: Holly (Hathaway)

SEND Award
This award recognises an individual who has and continues to demonstrate their passion, commitment and dedication to supporting SEND children and families.  They always go above and beyond to ensure each child reaches their full potential despite the challenges they face.

Winner is: Nancy (Academy Gardens) 
Judges choose Nancy as she has a great partnership with the parents and other professionals in the local area.  In line with the needs of the children at her setting she developed and manages a beautiful sensory room which all children have access too but especially supports those who struggle with the noise and business of nursery all day.  With her extensive knowledge she understands the importance of early intervention and works closely with parents as soon as any problems become apparent.  Nancy is passionate about supporting SEND children this is evident in all that she does.

Highly Recommended: Dion (West Twyford)

Chef of the Year
This award recognises the hard work of our Chef’s across the company and awards the overall Chef of the year.
Overall Chef of the Year; Patrycja (Acton Park) 

Winner of the Bake off: Shobna (West Twyford)

Personality of the Year
This award recognises the team member who stands out for their individuality, sense of fun and charismatic personality.  Someone, that once you have met, you will never forget them!

Winner is: Holly (Acton Park) 
Judges choose Holly, unanimously for her bubbly personality, whether it’s 7am in the morning or later in the day when she is throwing her moves to her favourite boogie mites music tunes. There is never a dull moment with Holly around and her personality just jumps out of her.  She is always there to talk to and knows the right things to say in any situation.  Loved by her team in the nursery and across the company where she is recognised for her vibrant presence and heart on her sleeve approach to life.

Highly Recommended: Kevin (Hathaway)

Special Recognition of the Year
This award recognises one individual within the company who stands out and deserves a special mention for their dedication to the children and nursery over the past year.

Winner is: Luis (Head Office) 
The judges choose Luis for the way in which he supports each nursery to create and maintain fantastic learning environments.  He constantly demonstrates his creativity through all that he makes and provides for the nurseries.  Creativity runs through his family with all members getting involved and helping out on Luis’s latest project.   You only have to give Luis an idea and he runs with it, coming up with ideas, samples, pictures and then the finished product.  Luis is truly an asset to the Hungry Caterpillar Family and our learning environments indoors and out would be lost without your magic touch and commitment to provide great things for the children.

Highly Recommended: Tyla (Chalfont)

Inspirational Indoor Environment
This award recognises the nursery who has creates and maintains a learning environment that inspires and excites children.  Always developing, the rooms are always beautifully presented, well resources and organised and actively involve children in their daily learning.  This environment also embraces the vision Hungry Caterpillars has for it’s nurseries.

Winner is: Academy Gardens 
The judges choose Academy for the warm, welcoming, calm and friendly environment they have created for everyone.  It starts in the reception which is always bright, inviting and reflects all that is going on in the nursery at that time including employee of the month and parents library.  The environment promotes equal opportunities allowing children access to a wide variety of resources.  They are always look for new ways to adapt the environment to inspire learning, curiosity, awe and wonder.  The nursery team have created a beautiful sensory room for all the children to enjoy which provides a safe place for children to reflect and take some time out from the busy environment.  The baby room has adopted several aspects of the ‘Curiosity Approach’ with neutral colours and authentic resources. The nursery has created a lovely all weather space on the decking area for the babies to have access outdoors in all weathers.

            

Highly Recommended: West Twyford

Highly Recommended: Hathaway

Highly Recommended: Acton Park

Inspirational Outdoor Environment
This award recognises the nursery who has creates and maintains an outdoor learning environment that inspires and excites children.  Always developing, their outdoor space offers challenge, is always beautifully presented, well resources and organised and involves children in their daily learning.  This outdoor environment also embraces the vision Hungry Caterpillars has for it’s nurseries.

Winner is: Acton
Acton has worked hard to develop and create an inspiring outdoor environment, where Lamarie, Anthony and the team ensure there are daily engaging activities planned and set up for the children.  They garden is sued every day, whatever the weather and the team are passionate about ensuring exciting and challenging learning opportunities are set up each day.  Despite the small size of the space each area is utilised, resources and available for learning.
     

Highly Recommended: Academy Gardens 

Curiosity, Awe and Wonder
This award recognises an individual or nursery who over the past 12 months has embraced and implemented the Curiosity Approach in their nursery.

Winner is: West Twyford – Led by Joyce & Lisa
Thanks to Lisa and Joyce’s passion all staff are really happy to be on board with the Curiosity Approach.  They also share ideas with other team members from other nurseries who come to visit to see their wonderful pre school room and garden.  Lisa, the deputy manager, has a really clear vision for her room and has transformed it in to a magical space for her 2, 3 & 4 year olds.  Everywhere you look there is a little bit of magic and it defiantly has the ‘wow factor’

The team are always found on the hunt to find curiosity approach related objects for the children which includes visits to charity shops, Ikea and car boot sales.   They are always using their initiative to motivate their staff to make their rooms more exciting.  Finding various ways to engage and encourage the children to see the curiosity, wonder and awe in everyday life.  They are always sharing any information they find not just with their own team but everyone else in the Hungry Caterpillar family as well.

Highly Recommended: Holly (Hathaway)

Deputy Manager of the Year
This award recognises the outstanding work of one of our Deputy Managers which is, without a doubt, one of the hardest jobs in the nursery.  This person shines in their managerial role, is caring, fair, enthusiastic and always strives to push the nursery forward.

Winner is: Anthony (Acton)
The judges choose Anthony for all that he has worked through this year and all the great positivity he has shown towards the children, staff and parents throughout.  Acton has seen various changes in the nursery, management and organisation in 2019 but none of this has fazed Anthony.  He makes anyone that visits the nursery feel welcomed with his warmth and polite way in which he wishes you a pleasant day.  You can tell that Anthony enjoys working for Hungry Caterpillar through his dedication and commitment.  He never moans, is always ready to got the extra distance, he is flexible to the needs of the children and a true  gentlemen.  He is also a great member of the Santa francise.

Highly Recommended: Monique (Northolt)

Highly Recommended: Maryam (Academy Gardens)

Manager of the Year
This award recognises the outstanding work of one of our Nursery Managers. The nursery sector depends on the very best manager for its current and future success. This award will be won by the Hungry Caterpillar manager who has shown outstanding caring and business skills and leadership in developing a thriving, high quality nursery which delivers a superb environment and the best possible outcomes for children, staff and families.

Winner is: Chelsey (Northolt)
The judges choose Chelsey for Manager of the Year for her strong and dependable leadership, who is always calm in the face of struggles.  She always speaks positively and fairly to others, while helping her staff find their own voices too.  Chelsey’s staff are kept well informed of any upcoming changes or information they need to know.  She has a great relationship with her team and everyone from other teams across hungry caterpillars. Chelsey always completes tasks on time, which demonstrates her great time management and ability to prioritise tasks.  She also managed to maintain her nursery without a deputy or stable senior team despite being relatively new to the role and being face with challenges.  Chelsey is also one of our longest serving staff member showing that after 10 years

Highly Recommended: Joyce (West Twyford)

Highly Recommended: Michelle (Academy Gardens)

Nursery Team of the Year
This award recognises the outstanding work of a nursery team in supporting children and families, providing outstanding learning environments, embracing business goals, industry changes and supports each other to deliver each child with the very best start in life.  This team is committed to working together and values each others hard work.

Winner is: Academy Gardens
The judges chose Academy Gardens because they demonstrated that as a team they have developed an excellent standard of care and education for all children attending.  In the past year the nursery has continued to be extremely busy with many families having considerable challenges that go beyond their child.  The team pull together to support each other and the children to ensure progress is made and despite a healthy mix of personalities and opinions, they always put the children first.

The year has not been without challenge and as a team, they have learnt a lot about conflict management, getting positive outcomes from difficult situation and how to support each other in a professional way.  Academy’s experiences with parents, this year prompted us to add Mental Health First Aid onto our training agenda and I am sure you will all agree it is a valuable addition.  Every team has up’s and downs but what stands out with Academy is how they come back together as a stronger team as a result of challenges and never drop the ball during the most difficult periods.  Staff retention is high and there is real strength and stability in their senior team which filters down and inspires the rest of the staff.
Supporting Testimonial from a Parent:

“It is important to note the staff members at Academy Gardens are very passionate about what they do and how they deliver their expertise to meet each child’s need.  As a parent who is keen on choosing only the best for my child the staff ensure they deliver excellence in their care, learning and communication.”

Highly Recommended: Northolt

Highly Recommended: Acton

Highly Recommended: Hathaway

Nursery of the Year
This award celebrates the nursery that has created the very best overall environment which promotes the highest levels of care, education, staff morale/retention and business performance in 2019.

Winner is: Academy Gardens
The judges choose Academy Gardens for achieving the best overall environment and business performance in 2019, including high staff retention and building a strong team.
Throughout the year, Academy has achieved excellent parent engagement, despite challenges, with a high level of engagement from parent on the Famly app.  They organise regular events and amazing parties to bring family together which includes their Easter Egg Hunt, Bonnet Parade and Graduation.

The nursery regularly raising money for charity, such as the Eid cakes sale in aid of GOSH and a McMillan Coffee morning where they raise £150. The nursery collected for their local church with a harvest collection and has strong links with the local community – taking children to visit the library on a regular basis.  This year the nursery has introduced home visits for their most disadvantaged families, which is proving an important factor in assisting them to support high need children.  The team also care for a high number of children with SEN (18 currently) and as such have formed effective working partnerships with a number of professionals involved with the families. The nursery has seen excellent staff retention, which demonstrates what a great place it is to be for everyone.

Highly Recommended: West Twyford

Heart of Hungry Caterpillars
This award was voted by our team member for the person who is Hungry Caterpillars; we asked they voted for the person who, through their ongoing passion, dedication and drive demonstrates daily their commitment to our vision and goals.  Someone who always goes the extra distance does it with a smile and does it to the best of their ability. Someone who inspires you and really makes a difference!

Winner is: Luis
Always helpful, so creative, if I ask he is always willing to help! He is fantastic and great in ideas. He has turn our nursery into a calm warming home
Luis is always so helpful at every nursery. He is so happy all of the time and makes you feel welcomed and valued, Luis is the most helpful person and whenever there is something that needs doing the first time of asking he does it & makes the projects he works on amazing. Not only is Luis a maintenance man he is amazing with the children and they all get so excited to see him. Luis puts a smile on everyone’s faces when he visits the nurseries and is a great member of staff. Luis has made so many of the nurseries look so amazing with all of the ideas and input he has on the projects. So that is why I think Luis deserves this award 🙂

Staff Training Day – 24th October

NMT – Nursery Chef Finalist 2019

We are so proud to announce that Kate, our wonderful Chef from our Chalfont St Peter Nursery has been shortlisted as a finalist for the NMT Nursery Chef 2019

Kate was secretly nominated by her team for her calm approach, cooking delicious healthy meals for 60 to 70 children per day, managing a huge range of dietary needs and allergies.  In addition Kate plans and delivers weekly cooking classes for the children, which she adapts the to ensure even those with allergies can participate fully.

Since joining Hungry Caterpillars Chef team Kate has also been part of the ‘menu planning and development group’, working with senior management to ensure our seasonal menus across the company work not only on paper but on a day to day basis in the nursery.

The next step for Kate is the Chef Judging day which is on the 9th October.  It will be a bit like master chef with a timed cook off and tasting by the judges.  A bit nerve wracking but knowing Kate she will take it all in her stride.  I’m sure you will join me in wishing Kate the best of luck.

About the NMT Awards

 

NMT Nursery Awards 2019 is an annual event organised by Nursery Management Today, the leading business publication in the nursery sector and sponsored by key companies providing services in the sector. The Awards are designed to reward excellence in childcare and celebrate the very best people in the Nursery Sector. There were 18 categories to enter overall and there were four or five finalists in each category. All finalists will meet with three independent judges for each category on 18th October at the Awards’ Judging Day at the Hilton London Metropole. For more information and all categories, please visit http://nmt-magazine.co.uk/nursery-awards/awards/

 

Winners of the NMT Nursery Awards 2019 will be presented with their trophies at the high profile Gala Night held on Saturday 30th November 2019 at the London Hilton Metropole, attended by over 500 guests

 

.

Fireman visit at Academy Gardens

NMT Training Magazine – Climbing the Ladder

Hungry Caterpillars Director, Olivia Foley has recently had an article published in the training section of the NMT magazine. This is what she had to say about some of the recent training opportunities Hungry Caterpillars is able to offer it’s staff;

 

At Hungry Caterpillars, we have always had a strong commitment to training and developing our team. For the past 20 years, we have delivered five whole company, in-house training days each year, and we have seen the impact of these on upskilling staff and outcomes for children. On top of that, there is a wealth of additional training and development opportunities such as forest school, an online training portal, professional conferences and networks as well as access to external training.

Taking it further
But, for some time, we have felt we needed to offer more in terms of in-house leadership training. A moment that stands out for me was getting an email from one of our soon-to-qualify apprentices telling me how much she loved working for Hungry Caterpillars, thanking me for the opportunities to train and develop and underlining how she would love to continue to grow and develop within the company. Around the same time, I also had two team members apply for progression roles that had become vacant. Unfortunately, neither was quite ready, but I was, again, touched by their ambition, passion and clarity about their aspirations. We have always had a firm commitment to internal promotion and development, but nothing formal in house to prepare them for leadership roles. I made a promise to myself there and then that we would provide support for our team to become our future leaders and managers.

The planning stage
If we really wanted to harness the ambition shown by our staff, we needed to develop a programme that built a bridge between the roles of practitioner and leader and manager. We also needed a course for those new to leadership. So, after several months of planning, meetings with various training providers as well as with my senior team, 2019 saw the launch of our Future and Developing Leaders programme, which will ensure we grow our senior talent from within.

Course content
We devised the content to incorporate various elements we see as key. Delivery of the programme is through a combination of external trainers, early years specialists and our senior leadership team.

Topics include:

Leadership and Management
ILM Level 3 – Leadership and Management
The Leader in Me
High Performing Teams
Coaching & Mentoring Your Team
Developing Staff Performance
Speaking in Public – rising to the challenge
Early Years specific courses
Compliance
Preparing for Ofsted
Dealing with Complaints Effectively
Developing Strong Partnerships
Designated Safeguarding Lead

‘The Caterpillar Way’ courses
Customer Service – sensational show rounds
How We Observe, Plan and Support Children’s Development
In-house software packages
Manager’s Task Schedule – How to do the ‘business bit’
Choosing Your Training Partners.

We chose ESB Training to deliver the leadership and management elements of the programme, because they clearly understood what we aimed to achieve – plus there were great recommendations. If your course is to be a success, it’s important to choose a trainer who shares your values and vision, and Rosie, the director of ESB, was completely on the same page as us. ESB could already offer key elements such as the opportunity to get a recognised qualification, while reflective tasks were built into their leadership programme. As she said: “When Olivia and I sat down to discuss the future and developing-leaders programme, I was impressed with the vision she had for creating a culture of strong and effective leadership within Hungry Caterpillars. It has been a great pleasure to design and deliver this year-long bespoke programme, which gives all participants the opportunity to develop a full range of leadership skills. It’s a fantastic example of strategic investment in leadership which will lead to huge benefits for the team, parents and, importantly, the children.”

Recruiting candidates
Candidates for the course are nominated by their line manager – they can nominate themselves, but they all have to fill in an application form. This captures why they are applying for the course, what they hope to gain and where they hope to be professionally in the future. In addition, they sign up to our company training agreement, which acknowledges our investment in them, as we really wanted to get a measure of each individual’s commitment to the course before offering a place. We cap the annual intake so places are limited, but those who are unsuccessful have the opportunity to apply the following year. In our first year, we offered 12 places with great confidence.

A solid foundation
Each candidate is allocated a mentor, who is usually their line manager, but might be a director or member of the senior team. The mentor’s job is to meet with the candidate after each session to get feedback on how they are doing, support them with their reflective task and generally keep them on track. Both the mentor and the candidate attend an induction session, which outlines the overall programme content, the role of the mentor and our expectations of both.

Reflective tasks
A reflective task is set after each session and is key to the programme. This is to ensure that students get first-hand experience of the skills they have learnt and that they have the time to reflect after each session. They then feedback their experience of the reflective task to the group at the next session, which provides another opportunity for them to develop self-confidence and consolidate the skills learnt – and, of course, it is an opportunity to do a presentation in front of a group of their peers.

Feedback so far
Despite the fact that we are only halfway through the first year of the programme, feedback has been truly positive. “The course has allowed me to reflect on my approach to my role, staff team and parents. I have been able to use strategies learnt to deal with different situations with a positive outcome.” Chloe Moses, deputy manager “I have learnt that knowing your staff individually is a high priority in order to get the best out of them. Being aware of individuals’ readiness levels is supporting me to guide them to achieve what is required of them.” Chelsey Gilder, nursery manager “Since starting the course, my confidence has grown massively. I have learnt lots about myself and
I’m managing my room and team more effectively,” Mollie Bradshaw, deputy room leader.

Celebrating success
The programme has been planned to run over a 12-month period (January to December), and we shall celebrate their success with a graduation ceremony at our annual team awards day in December this year. Hopefully, this will inspire 2020’s cohort to apply for a place in the next programme, and we will see the benefits of the skills learnt in our future senior teams. There is no doubt that, as we work through our first year, we will tweak and develop the programme, learning as we go. But that is as it should be – being flexible and adapting to change is, after all, something we are great at in early years.